January 14, 2006

The Steeking Chronicles: The Crocheted Steek

Introduction; Setting Up Steeks; Handling Color ChangesPlanning and Placing Steeks; Handling Decreases in Fair Isle KnittingThe Traditional, Unreinforced SteekThe Hand-Sewn Steek • The Crocheted Steek • Putting It All Together; Working Sleeves; Blocking; FinishingA Word On Norwegian Steeks

Oil and water. Seafood and cheese. Poprocks and Coke. Crochet and I - yeah, we shouldn't really be mixed, except with full knowledge of the high probability of disaster. Isn't it peculiar, then, that the crocheted steek (described further in Meg Swansen's Sweaters From Camp) is my favorite one?

(That's the swatch o' the day, and the most successful one so far, I think. If I just reverse the gradient of the background to make it run from light to dark to light again, and fuss with the edge treatments a little to make the border bleed into the white background, I think we might have a winner. That's the last you'll be seeing of it today, incidentally - wave! It was, indeed, worked with crochet finishing, but it proved impossible to get a picture that showed the stitches under all that hairy fuzziness. Little swatch, we hardly knew ye.)

For the sake of all our eyeballs and my (rapidly diminishing and therefore increasingly precious) sanity, I'm going to show you the crocheted steek in a smooth, DK-weight Merino that shows stitches clearly. The crochet method, in fact, is eminently suitable for smooth animal fibers like this one - as with the hand-sewn steek, the real work is done by the natural cling of the yarn, but extra security is provided by the applied binding. Again, this isn't particularly appropriate for superwash wools, plant yarns, or synthetics, or for anything at a large gauge. Without tightly woven floats or a firm base fabric, the tightest crochet won't guarantee hold.

This is one of those very intuitive processes that take a thousand words to describe properly. In an attempt to keep this post pithy, I'm going to rely on poorly-drawn graphics and color-coding to clarify where my words fall short (everything's a tradeoff these days, you know. Take it up with management).

A crochet steek is worked over the center three stitches of the bridge - meaning that, for the first time, we'll be using an odd number of steek stitches, and the cutting will be done up the centerline of a whole stitch, rather than between two stitches. The basic idea here is to bind the right half of the first of three stitches together with the left half of the center stitch, and the right half of the center stitch to the left half of the third stitch, all before cutting up the middle of the center stitch.

Oh, dear. See what I mean about the wordiness thing? This graphic explains it a lot better.


The blue stitch in the center of both drawings represents the center stitch of your steek, and the black line up its middle the line along which you'll cut. The pink represents the stitches on either side. Every knit stitch forms a distinct "V" shape, with a right side and a left side - the second drawing shows, in red, the pairs that need to be joined with a single crochet chain - the first pair is made up of the adjoining parts of the leftmost and center stitch, and the second pair is made up of the adjoining parts of the center and rightmost stitch.

I've heard about people working a steek of the three stitches needed - and only those three stitches, plus one border stitch on either side for picking up. Since I'm not as brave as that (I hate the idea of putting that stress directly on the cut edge), I've allowed a generous bridge of seven stitches, plus the two border stitches (meaning the whole thing takes up the first five and last four stitches of the round). You can see them here, with the center stitch marked in blue, the two adjoining stitches marked with big pink arrows, and the border stitches marked with smaller pink arrows. I've worked the steek in stripes again, to guide me in crocheting.

As long as we're here, it would be worthwile to address the issue of changing colors in an odd-numbered steek. While an even-numbered steek allows for a convenient switch smack in the middle, right along the cutting line, that's clearly not possible when the centerline falls in the middle of a stitch. I've worked the sample with only two colors for simplicity, but it's important to understand that colors need to be changed in this steek in a way that keeps ends and knots away from the center three stitches. This is most easily accomplished with a spit-spliced or felted join, or by introducing new colors at the beginning of the steek, weaving them until the beginning of the round, and then weaving the old color behind the work for a few stitches. The hanging tails will, of course, need to be darned in or otherwise dealt with later - better to just spit on them, already.

One more variation would be to work an even numbered steek, change colors as usual in the center, and work the crochet reinforcements at least one stitch away on either side of the centerline (that is, the new or last stitch with any color should NOT be incorporated into the crochet). This works fine, too, but the resulting edge will need to be trimmed carefully after cutting.

Phew! Okay, down to the actual method. This is written so a knitter with no crochet experience can follow it - huzzah for exhaustive detail! You'll want a crochet hook smaller in diameter than the knitting needles you were using, and a working yarn of matching or finer weight wool to create a tight, hard-wearing edge that felts together over time. Use the smallest hook you can without actually distorting the gauge of the knit stitches - I'm using a 3mm hook for work done on 3.5mm needles.

Turn your work so what would be the left side of the steek is closest to you. You'll be working this side first - the center stitch is marked again with blue, and the adjoining stitch marked with pink.

Starting at the far right side (the bottom of your steek), pick up the far side of the adjoining stitch and the near near of the center stitch with your crochet hook. If things were right side up, you'd be picking up the right half of the first stitch and the left half of the center stitch, just as in the diagram. Be careful to pick up only those two loops and not the floats behind the work.

Lay your crochet yarn over the hook so the working (skein) side runs to the left and the short tail to the right. Catch it with the hook, and pull it through the two loops on the needle.

Catch the working yarn with the hook once more...

And pull it through the loop on your needle. That's one stitch of single crochet.

Keep going by picking up the pair of stitch halves directly to the left (the next row, were things oriented - which stitch is which is noted, again, with blue for center and pink for adjoining):

Pull a new loop of yarn through the picked-up stitches, but not the loop of working yarn. You should have two loops of working yarn on the hook.

Catch the yarn with the hook one more time:

And pull it through both loops of working yarn on the needle to end with one loop.

Continue this way until you reach the last stitch pair on the left (the top row of the steek). Work those stitches as described, cut the yarn, and pull it through the last stitch on the needle to end.

Turn the work 180 degrees, so the right side of the steek is nearest you. Starting from the far right side again (the top of the steek), work just as you did before until you reach the far left, or bottom. Cut the yarn and pull it through.

The finished crochet should look something like this - the visible loops should slant neatly away from the center, rather like a book laid open. It's important to note that the tension should be firm, but should not pucker the knitting - go up or down in hook size or adjust the yarn weight if the crochet looks too loose or is gathering the steek in.

If you gently pull the two lines of crochet apart, you'll see a ladder of the base knitting. These are the purl bumps of the center stitch - what you'll be cutting in a couple seconds.

More cutting trauma for everyone:

Don't be like me - buy some small, sharp scissors for this endeavor. It's very, very easy to snip the crochet by accident - for this reason, it's smart to 1) do the crochet in a highly contrasting color (it'll be folded under and hidden, anyway); and 2) cut very carefully, one ladder and the accompanying float at a time.

Believe it or not, this is a straight-on photo of the cut edge. Hopefully, you can see the neat, tidy criscross of threads that holds the thing together.

This is why I love this method - the edge is so clean it needs practically no finishing, but it still matches the knitted fabric itself in flexibility and stretch. It works beautifully on smooth yarns, without the sloppiness of hand-sewing; sure, it's a bit fiddly, but it's worth it. I plan to use it on all the openings of the argyle vest - you should be seeing it in action in the next week or so.

Next: Putting It All Together; Working Sleeves; Blocking; Finishing

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January 13, 2006

The Steeking Chronicles: The Hand-Sewn Steek

Introduction; Setting Up Steeks; Handling Color ChangesPlanning and Placing Steeks; Handling Decreases in Fair Isle KnittingThe Traditional, Unreinforced Steek • The Hand-Sewn Steek • The Crocheted SteekPutting It All Together; Working Sleeves; Blocking; FinishingA Word On Norwegian Steeks

After the horror of the naked, unstabilized steek, every other kind should appear to be slightly less insane. Today, I'll show you my method for a steek stabilized on either side of the cut with hand-stitching.


While the unreinforced steek is really suitable only for Shetland wool or other very hairy, very "sticky" yarns, hand-sewing works to stabilize smoother animal yarns - think Merino or other wools that feel soft against the skin, but would still be candidates for felting. The hand-sewing provides some hold, but isn't a complete guarantee: the real work is still done by tight gauge, closely woven floats, and the natural tendency of animal hairs to cling together. Superwash wools and plant yarns aren't great prospects for hand-sewing - the possibility of a slippery yarn popping out of its thread binding is too real for my tastes.

For this steek, I've used eight bridge stitches and two edge stitches, and worked the color changes with vertical lines rather than checks. The two methods are interchangeable, though some people prefer lines for the guidance they give when sewing and cutting. The edge stitches, worked in the background color (shades of gray) are marked again with pink arrows, and the end-of-round jog (between the fourth and fifth bridge stitches) is marked with a blue arrow. Once again, that end-of-round point will be our cutting line.


I sew as close to the cutting line as possible - that is, exactly half a stitch away on either side, or down the centerlines of the fourth and fifth stitches. If cutting into the sewing by accident is a concern, there's no reason why sewing can't take place a whole stitch or stitch and a half away from the cutting line, but the longer unraveled ends will have to be trimmed as part of garment finishing. The stitching lines are shown here in green, on either side of the blue cutting line.


Plain polyester sewing thread works fine, as would cotton or linen thread. Thread a sharp needle, and run the thread all the way down and back up the steek, catching as many floats as you can. The goal is to split the plies of the yarn (hence the sharp needle used) to create a secure hold.


Backstitch along the running stitch foundation you've laid, taking very narrow stitches that split the yarn itself. The finished stitching should be strong and firm - making tiny stitches allows you to create a firm seam without pulling or puckering or otherwise distorting the gauge of the steek itself. The smaller your stitches are, the tighter they'll hold the floats once cut.



Repeat along the other sewing line. Begin and end each line of sewing by taking two or three stitches very close together to secure the thread.



On the wrong side, the stitching is more obvious, since it isn't buried in the valley of a knit stitch - some people prefer to cut from this side, to ensure that the stitching isn't inadvertently cut.


I know you love these pictures!


Seriously, cut very slowly, snipping just a float at a time. Slipping and cutting into the backstitching will spoil the whole thing, and you'll curse the Shetland archipelago and Scotland and knitting and every other damn thing you can think of. Patience, patience.

The cut steek, ready to be turned under and tacked down. Done correctly on the proper wool, this method should give you a secure, stable edge without stiffness.


(for those who are interested in such things, the swatch here uses the same pattern as yesterday's, but the background and pattern colors have been reversed. Neither is really a success - but that's what swatching's for, right?)

Next: The Crocheted Steek

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January 12, 2006

The Steeking Chronicles: The Unreinforced Steek

Introduction; Setting Up Steeks; Handling Color ChangesPlanning and Placing Steeks; Handling Decreases in Fair Isle Knitting • The Traditional, Unreinforced Steek • The Hand-Sewn SteekThe Crocheted SteekPutting It All Together; Working Sleeves; Blocking; FinishingA Word On Norwegian Steeks

Today, I'll show you the scariest steek - the one with nothing to stabilize it. No sewing, no crochet, nothing to keep the whole sweater from unraveling but some peculiar properties of Shetland wool. This method won't work for any superwash, manmade, plant fiber, or otherwise smooth yarn, or yarn much thicker than DK weight - hairy, prickly wool fibers and tight gauge are what promote the slight felting that holds the cut steek together.

For a no-sew steek, the bridge can be formed by any even number of stitches, depending on habit and comfort. I have read of production knitters in Shetland working with as little as two steek stitches, for speed and reduction of waste, but I like to use between six (shown below) and ten stitches, depending on the stress the stitches will receive after being cut - more along a high-stress area like a button band or armhole; fewer along a less-manipulated area.

The steek proper is flanked by two edge or border stitches (marked with pink arrows here), usually worked in the background color, which become the stitches for picking up and working sleeves, neckbands and button bands.

There are several ways of working the steek itself. For an unsewn steek, the arrangement of stitches isn't particularly important - the main requirement is frequent color changes (usually every stitch) to create a tightly woven fabric. A steek with long floats of color will not hold together well, while a steek made of yarns that alternate every stitch has a firmness that promotes cling. I follow Alice Starmore's advice and alternate colors every row, creating a checked or seeded effect, while others stack colors, creating vertical columns that can be easily followed for stitching and cutting.

The end-of-round is marked with a blue arrow in the picture above, clearly showing the jog where each row ends and the next begins. The end of round, whenever possible, should take place in the center of a steek, as the jog is hidden and color-change ends become a non-issue once cut. When casting on, the steek stitches should comprise the first and last few stitches of the round.

I simply knot new strands at each color change, though a felted join or no join at all works just as well. If the change takes place outside a steek, I'd later unknot the ends, pull up the tensions, and weave them in. I'll just leave these as is, and trim the knots away with any other hanging ends once the bridge has been cut.

Remember to bind off your steek, or put it on a holder if you prefer to graft or bind off the two sides together. Now, there's nothing left to do but cut.

Elizabeth Zimmerman gave some famous advice about retreating to a dark room with a stiff drink after making the cut. I don't know if it's necessary to go quite that far - though it certainly couldn't hurt. Just cut slowly, snipping a few threads at a time, with a pair of very sharp scissors. Since we have an even number of stitches, we're cutting between the third and fourth stitches of this six-stitch bridge.

Here's the edge formed. As you can see, hardly anything has unraveled at all.

It stands up fine to washing and blocking, too. Further handling will only strengthen the edge - those suckers aren't going anywhere.

Next: The Hand-Sewn Steek

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After the whole debacle of the baby sweater, I needed something to cheer me up - I started last night on an argyle vest for me in the Korean Merino. If you can make out the "lazybones" scribbled at the top, it's because my construction for this takes the easy way out - no intarsia, knit entirely in the round in stranded Fair Isle (shoulder shaping, too! Walk, do not run, to read this), with the pattern plotted with double lines to ensure that there are no floats longer than 5 stitches.

I'm hoping the final product will be a good union of a very traditional pattern, modern (that is, easy-way-out) construction, and up-to-date shaping, all in an old-school garment (I mean, who wears a vest anymore?). It's going to be a long-line kind of thing, with wide ribbing and a rather deep (below the bust) v-neck. I picture wearing it with a pink oxford, white wide-leg pants, brown slingbacks, and my hands in my pockets - we'll see.

December 27, 2005


I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season, with a minimum of stress and a maximum of pastry seasonal cheer.

Me, I'm just glad it's winding down. Despite my efforts to keep things simple, everything combined always ends up being too...too, what with the booze and the sodium and the electronics and the paper and the lights and the crowds and the general atomoshpere of frenzy. I spend the last week of every year slightly dazed, as though I've just emerged from out of a particularly garish pinball machine.

Last night, that sweater coat became

a lot of very fine, somewhat fragile yarn. I was wrong when I guessed that it would be a fingering weight made of several plies - turns out it's two strands of laceweight-ish knit together. It needs to dry, and be wound, and then we'll see what we see.

To rip the coat, I used this


Courtesy of my boyfriend, who apparantly braved the uncharted and highly treacherous territory that is the knitting store in order to pick this up. It's perfect, since I don't need a ballwinder - I'm getting pretty handy with the nostepinne method - but the whole outstretched-knees-as-skein-holder thing wasn't really cutting it.

He gave me this, too:

I've been wanting this collection for a long time; there are some unbelievably beautiful patterns and motifs in here (Frost Flowers, anyone?). It's worth having for the charts alone, but the prose is charming and some real effort went into making this a coherent collection. Huzzah for wonderfully thoughtful, much-needed and much-appreciated presents!

Yesterday, I got my first (long-delayed) closeup look at the winter Interweave. This design was the only thing that caught my eye in the magazine -

but, oh, what a winner it is! I'm not crazy about the colors, but I love the concept, the shaping, the sense of geometry together with those sinuous cables that interlace and join the panels of the garment as though they grew that way. This is the sort of stuff I want to come up with - there's so little that's truly innovative when it comes to a craft as old as knitting, but man, is this a clever take on things.

Project Rundown:

--I decided Friday afternoon that I wouldn't try to finish my dad's sweater or the houndstooth clogs - a copout, maybe, but there were shrimp to be fried and temaki to be rolled in preparation for a big party. I really should learn not to bite off more than I can chew or choke down or chug.

--Some time ago, I took stalled-out projects off of the progress list. Brief obituaries follow:

  • Circular shrug: I hated the way the motifs were looking, hated the length of my rib section, was running out of yarn, and probably would not have found a shrug all that flattering (I think I was induced to cast on by the same flight of wild fancy that makes me think every May that yeah! This is the summer I can pull off one of those cute string triangle bikini tops. Yeah, no). I've been thinking lately of making a tightly shaped felt cloche, the mohair brushed up and shaved to resemble rabbit skin. Some wilting felted flowers and a droopy ribbon, and Ann Darrow'd have nothing on me.
  • Fair Isle Vest and the Fair Isle Sweater Jacket: The Fair Isle Exercise lives on, as the Fair Isle Armwarmers. The sweater jacket was poorly planned (suprise!), while the vest never really got off the ground. Until I develop an eye for color and pattern, I'll experiment with small projects.
  • Martha: Sigh. I have no excuses here, except that I got tired of knitting it. I came to dislike the Dale Stork (weird-feeling, like knitting with a full strand of embroidery floss), and dreaded the thought of stringing more beads. Maybe I'll get back to it when spring rolls around, or maybe it'll become a little baby jean-ish jacket.

Phew! Now, I just have to decide what knitting to take on vacation with me. The Austrian stockings? The baby sweater I've got to make? Those damn convertible mittens?

December 01, 2005


It actually worked. I can't help but feel a bit smug - it's just so damn pretty.



It shrunk from 19" x 9" x 7" deep to 15" x 7" x 5" deep. The fabric is wonderfully firm and dense, and my lazy end-finishing (that is to say, none at all) seems to have been completely masked. Just as everyone else who's made this found, the suggested hand-felting instructions are total bullocks; it took two cycles in the wash for the magic to happen.

I blocked it on a padded portfolio pilfered from a long-ago conference, bent and folded to accomodate the flare of the sides:

It needed some rather aggressive pulling and shaping and pinning to even everything up, but it seems to have resulted in a perfectly flat, smooth, heavy-but-drapey felt. Backed with interfacing, it'll be perfect.

Lining shopping today, and then some investigation into sources for some of the hardware I need (hint: Googling "leather straps" does NOT give you purse and handbag supplies, gah).

While the wash ran, I gave some more attention to The Fair Isle Project. I've come up with a pattern:

based on a jumper in the Shetland Museum:

I am completely besotted by this sweater, totally and wholly in love with it. I've taken some of the motifs from it, and am planning to work them as shaded bands of dark-pattern-on-light-background on a natural white canvas, punctuated with threads of currant red for a little visual wink. The yarn is wound:

and swatching has begun:

That edge is the product of cutting a tubular swatch. They're telling you the truth - it won't unravel. Could it be a real possibility to scissor gaily away into an unreinforced sweater, without madness or a mind otherwise diseased? The idea is starting to flirt rather dangerously with my brain.

November 30, 2005


Goodness - thanks for the nice comments about the socks! It really is a fun, tidy pattern, sensibly and clearly written (would you expect anything less from The Great Grumperina?) but plenty interesting to knit. Just one (very mild) warning about the pattern - the zigzag stitch does indeed make for a hugging, supportive fit, but it comes at the expense of lateral stretch in the fabric. DON'T worry too much about mods to make them smaller, unless you have very wee dainty little fairy feet. I wear a size 6 shoe, and found that I couldn't get the cuff over my ankle on the first go-round, when I'd blindly tried doing the whole thing on size 0s.

Everything yesterday was excessive. In eighteen waking hours, I:

  • drank enough coffee to float the Spanish Armada;
  • sent out more rock-solid queries and proposal packages than I normally do in a week;
  • got excited about some more ideas I'll solidify later
  • ate Ghandi's weight in butter chicken and tamarind pickle;
  • spent something roughly equivalent to the GNP of a small country on yarn;
  • talked until my tongue ached;
  • single-handedly brought about the extinction of several species of fish in a sashimi-related natural disaster (also known as "dinner");
  • poured cup after cup of sake for my dad, and accepted those proffered in return, until we were both pleasantly maudlin and weepy;
  • knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted.

I mean, if you're going to do anything, you might as well do it thoroughly, right?

The lovely-in-real-life Laura and I made the most of an otherwise grey day with some good food and some good yarn-ing. We swung by Knit 'N Stitch in Bethesda, where I picked up some felting-destined Cascade 220 in a pretty heathered rust color:

and then went on to Yarns International, just down the street. I LOVE this shop - All About Yarn is so close it's made me lazy to head anywhere else, but I'd forgotten how beautiful this shop is, full of thoughtfully selected fibers and an almost reverent regard for traditional knitting. They carry an enormous assortment of J&S Shetland jumperweight (I'd say almost half the line), but I knew what I was looking for:

Their own brand of 2-ply jumperweight in natural fleece colors, spun and put up for them by J&S themselves (in Shetland, to boot!). I bought one skein of each of the nine colors, plus a dark wine dyed J&S color I just couldn't resist, in an effort to further my FI education. Here they are, grouped into the basic light-on-dark shadings I'll start with:

That wine red will look dandy, I think, as a single line of pop in the horizontal centerline of the pattern bands. Does it make me a complete loser if I confess that I can't wait to start snipping yarn and swatching and arranging and charting for Armwarmers v2.0 portion of The Fair Isle Project?

We also had a lovely conversation with two extremely knowledgable, very proficient ladies in the shop about Fair Isle method and design and history (the older lady told a funny story about Norman Kennedy whipping off his homemade sweater during the middle of a concert to show her his construction method - "Och, lass, I haven't finished the ends yet, and it's been near twenty years!"). There was some general bemoaning over the Starmore debacle, some really good information exchanged about steeking, and some wonderful advice about good theory books. With their encouragement, I bought this,

which has an amazing discussion of color, and am on the lookout for copies of some other books they recommend. Traditional Fair Isle Knitting, by Sheila McGregor, is supposed to be a really invaluable resource for straight charts and thoughts on line and shape, and of course there was some general swooning over the Starmore book.

Oh, right, and I did a little work on the bag:

That is, I finished all the knitting for it and sewed it up about half way. I changed my side treatment, to create sharply sloping sides that almost meet at the top,

which I think will look a lot more finished and a bit shapelier than the box-with-handles in the pattern instructions. I'm thinking the Kate Spade Bexley Maddox bag

is a spiritual sister to my little project - with that in mind, I'm going to be very thorough with construction for this. No floppy, frowzy felt tote for me - there will be interfacing, there will be turning out through lining, there will be buckles and feet and interior pockets.

But first, there must be felting. I think I just felt a little shiver run down my spine.

November 23, 2005


I really thought the whole armwarmer thing was silly and pointless, until I realized how cold my hands get when I'm hunched over the keyboard. Gloves would be entirely too cumbersome; wristlets are ridiculous-looking; what I need is something that fits my arm and wrist and hand, with a thumb gusset, that covers the fingers to the first knuckle. Yeah, that would be great! How come no one's thought of this before?

Wait a minute.

So anyway, here's some (further) proof that I am totally barking mad:

I had a couple uninterrupted knitting hours last night (a treat for myself after braving the grocery store during rush hour). I could have worked on the felted bag. Or my dad's gansey. Or gotten cracking on some of the umpteen felted slippers I have to make.

No, I sat down and started A NEW PROJECT.

Because life is nothing without giant, awkward rationalizations, I'm telling myself that this is a learning project, an exercise in combining colors and shapes. It'll take the place of my Fair Isle Vest as The Colorwork Project since instant-gratification knits are more conducive to experimentation than ones that take forever, but the process will be fairly long-term, relegated to spare moments here and there - I don't expect to have a FO I'm satisfied with before Christmas.

The sample you see here is v.1.0 - a far cry from the "sophisticated Fair Isle" I was trying to achieve. My main problem with it is color-related - I just merrily combined colors I thought were pretty together, with no mind to hue intensities, making the finished pattern look sort of incoherent. This done totally in shades of blue and grey, or in natural fleece colors a la Ron Schweitzer's spectacular designs for Shetland 2000, might be a lot more adult.

The other big issue concerns the pattern itself - I didn't know whether I wanted something Norwegian or Scottish in flavor. Obviously I went with the former, but I am a little disappointed with the size of each motif's footprint on such a small piece. An arrangement of some narrow, traditional Scottish FI borders might be better suited.

Technical problems:

1) I should have striped the gusset in vertical columns to hide the end-of-round jog and give strength to the fabric. Easily fixed.

2) The star pattern I made up kind of sucked - there needs to be some sort of accent between each star to anchor the thread.

3) The brown borders make no sense here. All they do is visually slice.

4) Not marked, but there really needs to be some gentle shaping at the bottom of the cuff to prevent the motif from twisting. Also easily fixed.

All in all, this turned out...okay for something done on a whim, with no swatch and no tape measure. I'm going to keep refining the pattern and the design itself, until I have something I'm happy with - I think it might be kind of fun.